Let’s Celebrate Transportation!

Collage of modes of transportation, including highway, trucking, buses, ships, trains, and airplanes.

Transportation is an industry often taken for granted. Moving goods and people is essential to our economy. It takes a lot of resources, a lot of people and a lot of organizations to get that done.

This is something to celebrate.

That is why we have National Transportation Week (NTW). During that week we recognize the importance of the transportation system. President Kennedy declared the first NTW in 1962. It is affirmed every year by Presidential Proclamation. It is during the third week in May.

Fast Forward spoke to some leaders in transportation to discuss NTW.

Rear admiral Mark H. Buzby is president and CEO of the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA). The NDTA is a group of transportation professionals whose job is to move people and goods in support of our war fighters. Their goal is to do this as quick, secure and efficient as possible.

He describes NTW as an opportunity to think about how this country operates and how it moves. It is a time to think about the transportation infrastructure that supports our economy.

Screenshot image of Mark Buzby, taken from our interview.

Click a button to watch interviews with Mark Buzby and Brian Baney from the National Defense Transportation Association:

Brian Baney is the president of the DC Chapter of the NDTA. He says transportation is critical to the nation. NTW is a fun opportunity to reflect on how important transportation is. This year the DC Chapter of the NDTA is celebrating by renting a boat. The passengers will be local professionals who have dedicated their entire careers to the industry. During the cruise participants will review the history of the industry, honor those who work in the industry, and figure out ways to continue improving and growing the industry.

Baney believes the transportation industry needs to become as agile as possible. The ways the world operates and ways we move people and goods are changing. Everyone wants things quicker. The industry needs to move things faster and it needs to adapt. This creates an opportunity for anyone interested in a career in transportation.

Baney encourages young people to get involved in their local NTW celebrations and in the industry as a whole. He recommends online research to find a local chapter of the NDTA or other industry organizations. He encourages everyone to be aggressive, make contact with the members, offer to volunteer, and ask questions. If you make the first move, he guarantees you will be welcome.

Brooks Elliott is president of the International Transportation Management Association (ITMA). ITMA is a professional organization in Houston for the logistics community. Its members include truck lines, steam ship lines, air freight and cargo companies, stevedores, port authorities, maritime law firms, and others. NTW has a special place in the hearts of ITMA members. NTW is a result of efforts begun by the members of the Women’s Transportation Club of Houston in the 1950s. You can read more about that on their website.

Everyone is Houston celebrates NTW. There is a proclamation by the Mayor. There are luncheons, tournaments, silent auctions, and networking events at Minute Maid Park. ITMA hosts guided tours of the ship channel to teach participants about the terminals and infrastructure of the area.

These events raise awareness and channel funds into scholarship programs. ITMA’s annual scholarship program provides $30,000 each to 10-15 local college students studying logistics. There are four local institutions that offer transportation programs: Texas A&M Galveston (maritime), University of Houston (supply chain and logistics), Texas Southern University (maritime security, transportation, and planning) and San Jacinto College (transportation).

ITMA appreciates these programs and offers the scholarships to encourage students to study transportation. Elliott wishes more young people knew about the career opportunities available in transportation. Some opportunities are a result of older professionals retiring. But, more important, some opportunities are due to changing technology needs. Current logistics systems are often antiquated and only beginning to use modern-day technology. The industry needs a skilled workforce, familiar with these technologies, to help it grow. He says this makes the industry exciting, challenging, and lucrative.

Here are a few more ways we celebrate transportation. Do your own research and find out about events in your local area.

National Defense Transportation Day is the Friday of NTW. According to Buzby, this day focuses on transportation professionals and organizations who support our war fighters. This is a unique challenge and the people who do that are specialized.

National Maritime Day is the Saturday of NTW. This day recognizes the maritime industry and the role it plays in our economy, our trade relationships, and in supporting our military forces.

National Amtrak Train Day is in May. This day celebrates the advantages of rail travel and the history of trains in the United States.

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is in September.

National Aviation Day is August 19. It started in 1939 by presidential proclamation to celebrate the development of aviation.

Women in Aviation Worldwide Week is in March. It is designed to raise awareness of aviation opportunities to girls of all ages. And to celebrate the accomplishments of past and present women of aviation. Girls in Aviation Day is also celebrated in March.

Infrastructure Week is in May. One of its goals is to tell the story of America’s infrastructure and its impact on our communities, economy, and quality of life.

Melanie Kiper
Fast Forward: Volume 3 Number 1 - National Transportation Week